Polar Code Milestone Reached

The International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee has approved a new set of regulations to enhance navigational safety in Polar areas following years of intense negotiations, according to the Danish Maritime Authority.

The IMO has thereby taken a “decisive step towards making the so-called Polar Code internationally binding”, said the DMA in a statement.

The Polar Code is being developed to regulate shipping in Polar regions.

It will include everything from ship design and construction, to crew training and navigation to improve co-ordination of search and rescue operations.

Finalising the code has been delayed due to disagreements between various parties.

Some expect completion this year, though others expect further delays stretching two or three years into the future.

The DMA believes that the latest move by the IMO’s safety committee to approve binding regulations is a major step forward in getting the legislation finished.

“Denmark has been active in placing the Polar Code on the IMO agenda,” said DMA deputy director-general Francis Zachariae in a statement.

“Therefore, I am extremely pleased that — with the Polar Code — we will now enhance the safety of ships navigating Arctic and Antarctic waters.

“The new internationally binding regulations will also introduce a number of important measures to be taken when navigating icy waters, such as requirements for life-saving appliances and training of the crew.”

The IMO Maritime Safety Committee is expected to adopt the new regulations in the autumn of 2014, according to the DMA.

Environmental provisions in relation to navigation in Polar areas will also be adopted by the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in the autumn of 2014, said the DMA.

In early April, Norton Rose Fulbright lawyer Wylie Spicer told Lloyd’s List that the code should be completed this year.

However, a week later a Norwegian official said he believed it would be delayed to 2017.

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